Who doesn't believe their memories? Development and validation of a new Memory Distrust Scale

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Many people distrust their memories, because they believe themselves prone to omission errors such as forgetfulness, and/or commission errors such as misremembering. However, the most popular psychometric measure of memory distrust—the Squire Subjective Memory Questionnaire (SSMQ)—only probes people’s beliefs about omission errors, not commission errors. The present research describes a new memory distrust measure that assesses the latter kind of metamemorial belief. Two studies (combined N = 797) showed that our 20-item Memory Distrust Scale (MDS) has good psychometric properties, and is correlated with—but distinct from—the SSMQ. Participants in Study 2 described eight childhood events and rated their recollection of and belief in the occurrence of each. MDS scores were associated with the spontaneous reporting of nonbelieved memories and predicted belief in occurrence better than did SSMQ scores. Our data suggest that the MDS and SSMQ in combination could better predict individual susceptibility to certain memory errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-411
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Early online date6 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • memory distrust
  • autobiographical belief
  • nonbelieved memories
  • psychometrics
  • scale development
  • metamemory


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